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Finding the Right Match: Landlord and Tenant Compatibility

While many strive to be homeowners, Boston is ultimately a city dominated by renters. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 65% of the city’s residents rent. Both owning and renting have their pros and cons. Buying a home is a commitment to the property, but once the transaction is complete, you aren’t collaborating with other parties. Contrarily, renting involves committing to a long-term relationship with your respective tenant or landlord. Choosing the right tenant or landlord is crucial for both parties to enjoy a successful and harmonious rental experience.


Both sides need to determine compatibility before signing a lease in order to avoid conflicts and ensure an ongoing positive relationship. At the minimum, you will need to have a peaceful relationship for the length of your lease term (which is typically a year) but most people don’t want to move every year or onboard a new tenant, so finding someone you foresee getting along with indefinitely is key. Here are five essential tips for both landlords and tenants to discern compatibility before signing the lease.

Tips for Landlords: Choosing a Great Tenant

  1. Conduct thorough background checks
    Screen potential tenants by conducting thorough background checks. This will include credit checks, rental history, employment verification, and criminal background checks. While there are several commercial tenant screening services on the market, they can miss past evictions and criminal court cases, so we would recommend conducting a thorough investigation yourself. If possible, search local court records to get a comprehensive understanding of the tenant’s history. The time spent screening potential tenants will be well worth it to help identify reliable and responsible tenants, saving you money and any potential headaches in the long-run.
  2. Outline clear expectations
    It is essential to establish clear internal criteria for tenant selection. Before speaking to potential tenants, define your requirements regarding income level, credit score, rental history, and other relevant factors. Once set, do not compromise on these criteria, as doing so can lead to problems down the line. Trust your gut instinct, even if you feel under pressure to rent quickly. If something doesn’t seem right – move on.
  3. Interview potential tenants
    While the appropriate background checks can provide insight into the quality of a potential tenant, a phone or in-person conversation is invaluable. Conducting interviews with prospective tenants is a great way to gauge their suitability. Ask about their rental history, reasons for moving, and lifestyle preferences. This personal interaction can provide valuable insights into their compatibility with your property and community.
  4. Verify financial stability
    Ensuring the tenant has stable and sufficient income to cover the rent is the crux of this decision. It is a general rule of thumb that tenants should have an income that is at least three times the rent amount. This financial stability reduces the risk of missed payments and financial disputes. Be cautious of tenants who present large amounts of cash upfront to move in; this can sometimes be a red flag rather than a sign of financial stability.
  5. Check references
    Always ask for and check references from previous landlords and current employers. References can provide information about the tenant’s behavior, reliability, and ability to adhere to rental agreements. Use the appropriate level of caution if references are family members or friends rather than former landlords and current employers.

Tips for Tenants: Choosing a Reliable Landlord

  1. Research the neighborhood
    Before committing to a lease, take the time to research the neighborhood where the rental property is located. Look for information on safety, amenities, public transportation, schools, and overall community atmosphere. While every renter’s priorities will be different, it’s essential to make sure that the area meets your expectations. A good neighborhood can significantly enhance your living experience and provide a sense of security and convenience. If possible, visit the neighborhood in-person both during the day and at night to confirm that it meets your needs and feels safe.
  2. Evaluate the property’s condition
    Inspect the property carefully. A well-maintained property reflects a landlord who cares about their tenants and the rental experience. Look for signs of prompt maintenance and attention to detail, such as functional appliances, clean common areas, and well-kept grounds. If possible, see if you can speak with the previous tenant or the landlord’s other tenants to get a sense of how they operate.
  3. Review the lease agreement
    Examine the lease agreement in detail, including any addendums. You should understand and be able to comply with all of the terms and conditions, since most are non-negotiable. Pay attention to clauses related to maintenance responsibilities, notice periods, rent increases, and other policies that will impact your experience as a tenant.
  4. Meet the landlord
    Arrange to meet the landlord in-person before signing the lease. This meeting can provide a sense of their professionalism, communication style, and approachability. A landlord who is professional and organized is more likely to address concerns that you have promptly.
  5. Ensure financial preparedness
    Make sure you have enough income to afford the apartment, even to the extent that you anticipate possible changes in your financial circumstances, such as a roommate moving out or a job change. Ideally, your income should be at least three times the rent amount, and you should have a financial cushion to cover unexpected expenses or changes in your living situation. Knowing you can comfortably afford your rent – often your biggest monthly expense – will reduce financial anxiety.


Selecting the right tenant or landlord is essential for a successful and harmonious rental experience. Landlords should conduct thorough screenings and outline clear expectations to find reliable tenants. Tenants should research and evaluate landlords to ensure a positive rental environment. By following these tips, both parties can make informed decisions and hopefully foster a compatible and satisfying business relationship. If you are interested in learning more about landlord and tenant relationships, reach out to experienced landlord-tenant attorney, Joshua Krefetz.

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